Authorities controlled massive fire in several forest areas in Zabarwan range here after an overnight fire-fighting operation.
Fire had broken out in several areas of Zabarwan range on Sunday afternoon causing extensive damages to trees and shrubs. Teams of several departments were rushed to affected areas to control the fire.
Officials said the operation was monitored overnight by divisional commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan.
"It was a massive fire. The problem was compounded as it was spreading fast towards tree-line and habitations in Shalimar and Nishat. I kept the concerned officials on tenterhooks and deputed teams of Forest protection, Wildlife department, SDRF and police to these spots. The fire was controlled around 3 a.m today," Khan told Greater Kashmir.
The affected area hosts a large number of wild animals including leopards and bears as the zone lies close to the Dachigam National Park. Over the past many years, several fire incidents had taken place in the Zabarwan range.
On the steps to prevent forest fires, the divisional commissioner said, "I have directed concerned officials to maintain vigil in vulnerable areas to prevent such incidents."
Officials said fire reportedly started from an enclosure of Social Forestry located in the upper reaches of BreinNishat and quickly spread to adjoining forests. Fire also broke out in upper reaches of Harwan.
Panic had gripped inhabitants of Shalimar and Harwan as fire started to spread fast due to dry grass and shrubs.
"The affected spots were in a difficult terrain and the rescue teams had to foot long distance in extreme cold. The fire fighting continued till 10 pm, but fire was not getting under control," Director Disaster Management Aamir Ali said.
He said later divisional commissioner Kashmir deployed additional personnel of police and SDRF and fire was brought under control at 3 am.
DFO Urban Forestry Mukhtar Ahmed said, "Though fire has been doused, but our teams are maintaining vigil to prevent recurrence."
Officials said fire was apparently caused as some locals or nomads usually burn leaves or wood for warming themselves.
Several people who reached the affected spots to help in fire-fighting, rued archaic means to douse the fire.
"It was ironical to see officials laced with only sticks to douse fire. As forest in Srinagar is vulnerable to fire, government must use advanced fire-fighting measures to save rich flora and fauna," said a group of volunteers.
Srinagar has 380 sqkms under forest cover with several habitations Nishat, Shalimar, Gagribal, Nehru Park, Batpora, Harwan and Gupkar on its forest foothills.